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  • Writer's pictureMauricio Botero

First Person Shooter Project

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

I will start this summer with a series of animations to explore the locomotion and style of a character based on the rig made by Kiel Fieggins called Meli. The goal of this project will be to learn about the native Latin American cultures such as Mayas, Aztecas, Muiscas, and Incas, and to develop a character based on the research. Meli will be a native Latin American who lives before the conquest made by period of La Conquista Española in South and Central America. As a Colombian, I take this project personally because I never understood the importance to learn about the origins of my country as a kid and I want to have this opportunity to learn about it while I work on animations for my demo reel for games.


This project will have a duration of three weeks, in which I will animate a walk cycle, run cycle, sprint cycle, idle cycle, and a first person shooter reload. I don't wanted to focus only on the first person shooter animation because I want to practice in creating unique characters with specific background stories. However, the end goal is to have an first person shooter animation that I can include in my reel. I choose to animate a bow and an arrow in this animation because of my obsession with archery.


Lastly, in this post will be posted daily updates, as well as the breakdown of each animation from reference to final result. Let's start!


First Person Shooter Reload:


Combat-Ready Idle Cycle:


Combat-Ready Run Cycle:


Combat-Ready Walk Cycle:


Stealth Walk Cycle:


Pose Exploration:

 

DAY 01:


Days before I started to research about the most known Latin American natives: Mayas, Aztecas, Muiscas and Incas. Through documentaries I have been learning a little bit more about the background of these cultures as well as their history. To avoid staying in this research for too long, I decided to start doing pose explorations to know the character a little better.


I decided to inspire Meli in the characters of Lara Croft (the remake version portrayed by Alicia Vikander, in film, and Camila Luddinghton, in the game trilogy) and the Princess Mononoke (by Studio Ghibli). I watched the movie Tomb Raider with Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft and I write descriptions about her character and performance that I will use later for the creation of Meli's character. Tomorrow I will continue by playing a little bit of the game The Shadow of the Tomb Raider, by Crystal Dynamics, and I will also watch the movie Princess Mononoke and go with the same process to identify more characteristics of Meli's character.


Lastly, I started to collect some photo reference and artwork inspiration of poses to explore the personality of Meli. I import these images into Maya, and in one file pose the rig to explore her performance, which will be extremely useful when animating the walk, run, sprint, and idle. By the time when I reach the first person shooter reload, the character's personality will be clear enough to avoid any issue.

 

DAY 02:


Today I watch the movie Princess Mononoke to analyze the character traits to merge them with Alicia Vikander portrayal of Lara Croft. Although I didn't finished the movie, I was able to understand a little bit of the background of the character, however I will finish the movie tomorrow to get the full picture of San's character. Additionally, I animate a vanilla walk cycle to have a base to start building up Meli's walk cycle later on.

 

DAY 03:


Today I finished Princess Mononoke's movie, getting more details of San's character to include in my research. Also, I started to watch another TV series called the Green Frontier that I found in Netflix, which show a visual representation of indigenous people from Colombia and Brazil. I'm not sure if the source is good or not but because it was the only visual representation that I have found so far about South American indigenous people I find it interesting. However, my research is almost over and tomorrow I will start to animate the walk cycle.

 

DAY 04:


Today I played a little bit of Shadow of the Tomb Raider to take a closer look at the locomotion of Lara Croft, as well as her personality in the last release of the trilogy. However, I though that it would take a lot of time to play the game and that the similarities with Alicia Vikander's role were multiple, so I decided to start watching the cut-scenes of the games to catch some details that may fit into Meli's character that are not present in the movie.


Lastly, I shoot the reference for the walk cycle and I started to identify the key poses. However, due to Maya technical difficulties I wasn't able to start to re-pose the character, which I will do tomorrow.

 

DAY 05:


Today I continued watching the cut-scenes of the game Tomb Raider to explore more about her personality in the first release of the trilogy. After this, I started to block out Meli's walk cycle in Maya while experimenting with a new workflow. This workflow focuses a lot more in posing rather than movement. I decided to try this method because I feel that I have to improve my posing skills, but keeping at the same time a layered method. My workflow through this exercise will be to spend a lot of time on the main poses, but later my focus will be on movement. I decided to do it in this way because the most important thing, I believe, is to grab the attention of the audience with one pose, but later what is important is how I can convey her personality through movement.


I already finished the first pose (contact), which is the most important because in the walk Meli will hold roughly the same pose and move around it to convey weight and character. Tomorrow I will continue with the blocking of the walk cycle and, hopefully, I will finish a rough blocking with strong ideas about her locomotion while walking. Getting ready for the hunting.

 

DAY 06:


Today I finished my research of Lara Croft by watching the end of the cut-scenes of the first release of the reboot of Tomb Raider by Crystal Dynamics. Also, I go over the history of the franchise to know a little bit more about the origins of the character. After all the research I believe that I understand now the character of Lara Croft, what makes her an appealing heroine, and her characteristics that will serve me well to build up more details in Meli's character.


Later, I begin with the blocking of the walk cycle by using the layered method. After getting the pose of the walk, I observe closely my reference to understand the motion to translate it into the graph editor curves. Now I have an starting point, with which I can begin polishing the walk in the upcoming days.

 

DAY 07:


Today was my first day to attempt working longer hours, however it didn't go as I expected. I was able to finish some of the notes that one instructor gave me in a Facebook group, however I was too behind in my goal of finishing up the walk cycle. Tomorrow I will attempt to finish fully the walk cycle. Additionally, I took inspiration from Elder Scrolls Online b y playing for a little time with a bow in first person perspective. This inspiration was a key component of my research because is one of the most successful games to showcase a bow in a first person shooter, without being strictly a first person shooter game. The way the show the animation, I think, is one of the best ones because they allow the player to see more of the screen.


Also, while writing this post I just remembered another game that has a reload in a bow: Overwatch. I think it is a good idea to also take inspiration from Overwatch. Maybe installing the game or just watching some YouTube videos about the reload.

 

DAY 08:


Today I wasn't able to work much but I sit in the chair for four hours and attempt to finish the walk cycle. Although it was a good progress, there are still things that need to be done to call the walk cycle completely finished. Mainly the things that are left are a couple of polish in the knees and a little bit in the upper body.

 

DAY 09:


Today I was able to finish the walk cycle (except for the clothes), and also I started to do the base of the run cycle and the second walk cycle. I decided to try a new workflow using animation layers, in which I animate a vanilla run cycle and later, with an animation layer, I modify the pose on top to match the performance I'm looking for. It will be an experiment, but I'm excited to try it out because if it works it means that I can animate one time a walk cycle, and later I can modify it into multiple personality walks or runs very fast.

 

DAY 10:


It has been a while since I don't work because I decided to take a break from the computer to focus on resting preoperly after finishing my MFA degree. Today I resumed my regular work and begin to learn about archery skills. I love archery but I don't know anything about it, so I decided to learn properly and buy a bow in the future. I think this would be easily my sport hobbie.


Also, I finished one pose for the pose exploration that I'm doing, as well as shoot and find reference of first person shooter with a bow. Tomorrow I will be focusing on the blocking on the entire shot, which I have to do one step at the time because I need to animate the different game states separately (the preparation, the idle, fast shoot, heavy shoot, transitions, reload, and the inspection).

 

DAY 11:


Yesterday was a pretty busy day. it was the first time that I could actually work the time that I worked with very good results. I was able to work for 10 hours for the very first time since the project started, reaching a point of almost completion. I'm focusing right now on the first person shooter animation, leaving the other animations for later. I was able to finish the idle, the blocking of the arrows shot and the inspection of the arrow.


Today I will try to do as much as I can, but my objective is to finish the polish of the arrow shots. If I go fast, I think I could even do an advanced blocking or a first spline pass in the inspection part,

 

Day 12:


I'm getting more closer than I think to the end of this project. I thought maybe I needed more time to complete this project but actually I feel that I just need two days of 8 hours of work. Yesterday I started polishing the arrow shots and I was surprised how good is looking. For what I have right now, it's already demo reel worthy and I can just put it there while I finish it.


My plan today is to continue and finish the inspection part of the animation. the is a lot of repetition in that animation so it shouldn't be hard to complete. I hope is not as hard because it will be nice to finish the animation today to move on to make it look better with good looking effects and a good environment.

 

Day 13:


This day I worked on the death animations. Although it was technically a part of another project, I saw the value in working in them now to include them in my big project of shoot and reload. The goal of the death animations is to practice animating hits and deaths, but also to add more detail to the shoot and reload animation. I just get to shoot the reference for these animations and finish the sprint cycle I did for the character, but the plan is to finish tomorrow the blocking (at least) of the three death animations.


If the day is productive, maybe I could also finish up the polish of these short animations.

 

Day 14:


I worked completely in the death animation blocking trying to reach a level of satisfaction with the poses. I did it in the first animation and I'm happy with how is it looking, however there is something about the second one that feels off to me. I think is the end part, but is not looking bad. Is just a little off. Also, I still have to start the third one.


Sometimes I feel that I'm being too hard on myself by trying to finish three animations in basically two days. I didn't get to this point, but also I need to think that finishing three animations in a time frame of two days is not easy. If I can get all three animations finished by the end of today or tomorrow, that will be fast for a person who doesn't have any work experience (I think, not sure how true is this statement). I don't know if I can accomplish this goal, but I will definitely try.

 

Day 15:


I focused on finishing the death animations that I want to finish quickly to include in the first person shooter animation. However, I think I'm starting to feel tired of the current project and I kind of want to finish it now. This is a similar feeling that I had with my thesis in which I get tired to think about it and I want to change. I think the best thing is to try to finish as soon as possible the animations and that's why I will focus today on finishing up the locomotion animations that are 80% finished.


At least I got to finish one of the animations that I need for my reel, so I can include it after some lighting setup to make it look good.

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